The Gifts of the Magi: An O’Henry Christmas Poem

I don’t remember their names yet 
I witness their shattered tree being
placed in the old bent stand.
Its wind-shorn branches
supplicate to the sky.
Placed beneath its boughs are
a Red Cross box and stained pics,
the bluegrass relics of
father, mother and infant son—
all exiles from my wife’s side of heaven,
huddling like a modern nativity scene
in my small garage— fleeing
destruction for the construction
humming around us.

Beyond the entry door
exists an evergreen
assembled from numbered parts,
and underneath, presents for us
to be regifted to them.
The mechanical star atop the fir’s
crown glows bright and colored lights
blink with a rainbow’s promise.
One by one we kneel down
searching for our gifts
and others to pass around.
Silent Night and Joy to the World
sing from a predetermined playlist—
while, demanding our silence,
the chiming winds outside
echoes our shared history.

The mother unwraps from
paper containing angels
a night dress two sizes too big;
the father— a warehouse
package of black socks,
gray and white T-shirts and
two pairs of jogging pants;
the infant, not yet young enough
to really know the world
except in sensory delights,
is swaddled in his new blanket
with toy dog breeds barking on it
that is big enough to dry a Skye Terrier.
He giggles with delight as he sees
and reaches for the star.

The father leaves, returning with
two pictures he gives to my wife.
They both have their younger selves
separated by twenty years of time
smiling and hugging each other
in front of old and new houses.
The mother cries a tear that
seems to last until the new year,
weeps for these sole rich things
generously given her.
And we all weep too.

At this moment, in this place
we exist beyond names,
removed from our unmade past,
beyond the map of places
that no longer exists, existing
proudly in the hurting-joyful now,
the hope and promise
of a rainbow future.